Hello dear readers! Do you like video games? How about travel? Well today’s post is all about my recent visit to The Computerspiele Museum in Berlin, so why not join me for an exploration of the treasures this marvelous institution has to offer!
Originally opened in 1997, The Computerspiele Museum was the world’s first permanent exhibition on the history of digital entertainment. In 2011 it moved to its current home on Karl Marx Allee, near to many of the attractions of eastern Berlin. It is about two minutes walk from a U-Bahn station (Weberwiese), so there really is no excuse not to visit if you happen to be in Berlin!
The museum consists of a permanent exhibition looking at the history of video games, as well as a temporary exhibition space. When I was there, the temporary exhibition was all about food in video games – Die digitale Küche:
This temporary exhibition was pretty cool, featuring a wide array of games that prominently feature food. I thought this was a really creative exhibition – it isn’t a particularly obvious topic but it was well-curated to show the diversity of approaches to food in video games. I had a go at Cooking Mama on the Wii, in which you have to complete mini-games that involve things like mixing batter or chopping vegetables using the motion controls of the Wii-mote. I will admit that I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t get very far, but it was fun none the less. Looking at food in video games with a completely different lens was a survival game (the name of which I have forgotten. There are reasons I don’t do this professionally…), which requires you to find food to survive as well as balancing other threats to your health. I was also very happy to be able to play one of my childhood favourites, Zool – the Ninja of the Nth Dimension, who just so happens to be obsessed with candy:
They also had Overcooked but perhaps unsurprisingly I wasn’t able to try it due to its popularity! As well as playable games there was a lot of video game art relating to food, and it was nice to see Governor Marley’s kitchen from Monkey Island 2 up on the wall.
The main exhibition was arranged thematically starting with a history of digital entertainment and then branching out into different types of games and themes within games. For example there was a section on the evolution of rhythm games (including a playable Dancing Stage which I had not tried in a long time…), as well as themes such as art, perspective and the chronological milestones of video game development.
It holds a vast number of playable games, some well-known and others less so. Within its walls were many historically important games such as Pong…
…and a wide array of arcade classics like Donkey Kong and Space Invaders. The museum has several arcade areas, including an old classics room and a racing game room complete with proper sit-in Sega Rally machines. Although many of the games in these areas were well known, I did stumble upon a couple I hadn’t seen before, my favourite probably being a racing game published in 1989 called Badlands:
Another nice little area of the museum which I thought was really original was a recreation of gaming rooms from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, each of which contained a playable game from the relevant decade:
They also have some more novelty gaming experiences, such as the Painstation (which as far as I can tell is Pong but with electric shocks) and the Giant Joystick (which is a functional game controller that requires your whole body to move it).
The whole place was decked out with some wonderful art and figures…
…and it also featured this map which I really liked showing both the number of video game companies and number of internet connections across the world. For me this really highlighted what an amazing medium gaming is for connecting people:
Overall, The Computerspiele Museum is a real treasure for gamers old and new. The variety of stuff on show and the amount of info about the development of digital entertainment means there will be something new for everyone to experience, no matter your previous knowledge of the industry.
To finish I want to add a quote I saw which really struck a chord with me:
The ability to play is an essential feature of human nature. Whilst playing, we can create our own worlds and explore strategies of action, without being afraid of the consequences for our real life. As children, we explore our environment by playing. Even when we are adults the desire to play and experiment confers inspiration and creativity.
So, what do you think? Will you be visiting the Computerspiele Museum next time you visit Berlin? Maybe you’ve got some other video game museums or exhibitions to recommend? As always, let me know below the line!
Thanks for reading,